Introduction: Grow Box - Automated, Stackable
Update: After all this work I'm having issues with the software after 6 days of running the serial out freezes and kicks on all the pumps and floods. Ideally I was going to have this complete before the contest, but reproducing a bug that takes 6 days to create takes quite a bit of time. I'm still working on this software, Attached is the time laps video of this grow
Here we see the over all design and goals of our project.
1. Isolation to reduce bugs and disease.
2. Stacking, a vertical grow area allows for compact and dense foliage.
3. Automated reservoir control, to include: Feeding multiple stacks, 3 peristaltic pump dosing, PH monitoring, EC/PPM monitor, Water level, Feed Return Flow monitoring, Auto Fill and Drain
4. Low power LED lighting 150 watts, Ultra quiet 140 mm Fans
5. LED's Raise with plant growth with a motor control.
6. Wireless connectivity, Data logging to the cloud, Changing cycle information
The size of the above image is 2' x 4' x 7.5'
Step 1: Place Holder
Step 2: You'll Need Water
The reservoir is really where all this happens.
I use a 7 gallon water jug from amazon, Because the computer fills and drains the reservoir we only make as much as we need nutrient solution.
Fresh water, Fresh Nutrients, Happy plants! No more stagnant water.
Our Goal for the reservoir
1. Auto fill from 3/4" water hose line or any house water line,
2. Float ball valve to prevent any floods.
3. Drain valve, same as the fill just in the other direction.
4. 2 Feed valves to allow the feeding of different crops from the same reservoir
5. Feed drain flow meter, this is a safety valve to ensure that the water pumped to feed the plants returns to the reservoir. Also could indicate pump malfunction or plumbing issues.
6. 3 Peristaltic dosing pumps, This allows for the use of a 3 part nutrient solution.
7. PH / PPM readings, This currently is solely data reporting.
8. Digital water level sensor to allow us to determine how much our plants have taken up.
Water inlet, Auto fill, and bottom plumbing to pump
7 gallon water jug, or any size you want
Water solenoid valve -
3/4" Right angle pipe fitting
1" drill bit
Water level sensor, PH, PPM
2" clear vinyl pipe
2" Threaded PVC elbo
double sided tape, outdoor type
2 1/2" Grommets
Water level sensor
3/4" elbow fitting to threaded to barbed
3/4" flow sensor
3/4" threaded to barbed strait
Step 3: Electronics
1 Spark Core
3 .1UF Capacitor
1 .01UF Capacitor
1 DHT11 sensor
1 NPN2222 makes sure the Shift registers are off when starting
2 ULN2803 Transistor array
2 74HC595N Shift register
3 3pin Screw Terminal
7 2pin Screw Terminal
2 4 pin Screw Terminal
1 PH Sensor, electronics Robotshop
1 PPM Sensor and Electronics Robotshop
1 water temperature sensor Robotshop
The above parts can be bought at
Step 4: LEDS, Light Bar and Netting
Our Light Bar has 4 key aspects.
1. LARGE 2"x1.5"x2" aluminum U Channels that connect all 3 panels together, Also these act as a heat sink
2. We extend netting from the Light bar to ensure the LEDS can be close to the plants but never get too close.
3. This panel moves up and down, So we have a IR sensor that is set above the netting, When the plants touch the netting they push it up into the IR beam then stopping the motor down. keeping the Lights to plants distance perfect every time.
4. the pulleys to allow the motor to move the lights. you'll need 4 on each corner.
We custom order our LED's from a Aluminum PCB manufacturer. They run about $300 each in orders of 10, We use the CREE XP LED's and a Phillip rebel Deep Red, 3 panels 48 watts each running at 700 ma
Mix of colors, this is still part of the fun of having multiple grow boxes controlled by the same computer, it allows us to mix and match testing out what colors plants like. The panels are the most expensive part in this setup, because of the low number we order from prototyping PCB companies
But I'll say there isn't anything on the market up to speed with the newest LED's created by Phillips and Cree.
Step 5: Software
My software is freezing after 6 days. I won't publish it until it is stable.
Here is my cloud interaction with the box.